15,000 California students rally at March in March
Students from colleges across the state gather in front of the Capitol in Sacramento to rally against the $500 million in cuts to higher education planned in Governor Jerry Brown's proposed budget.
COURTESY // Anali Villasenor
Students from California were seen waving signs, chanting and marching in response to the potential budget cuts within the state.
On March 14, eight students from Sonoma State University joined 15,000 to 20,000 scholars in Sacramento representing each of the 23 California State Universities (CSU's) and several junior colleges during the event "March in March," which was planned by the California State Student Association (CSSA).
According to the CSSA website, their purpose is to discuss concerns regarding students with the California governor and state legislature, where each of the 23 CSUs are represented, and students are brought together from all universities to collaborate with one another.
"The purpose is to rally students and to get awareness of cuts," said Sean Richards, legislative affairs and special projects coordinator within Associated Students Inc. "If we get lucky, and I mean lucky, only $500 million will be cut by the state, but most likely it will be between $750 million and $1 billion."
Richards believes that these cuts are in part due to Republican state senators and assembly persons' platform of refusing to raise taxes upon the citizens of California.
"The main message of the march is to let us vote," said Richards. "To get it on the ballot for us to decide what we want to do because we want to make sure the legislature knows our education is important."
Students listened to a number of speakers including Assembly Member Marty Block and Assemblyman Warren Furutani, who spoke on issues regarding education and budget concerns.
"Students were waving signs and a bunch of sticks, drumming on buckets, and chanting," said Paige Dominguez, one of the eight students from SSU to attend the rally. "People had mega phones trying to get everybody rallied up."
A few chants that were memorable for Dominguez were "Fund Hogwarts not Azkaban," in reference to Harry Potter; "Students united, we'll never be divided," referring to the students urge to stay connected and legally fight the budget cuts; and "Si, se puede," a Spanish phrase which translates to ‘yes it is possible.'
The rally did not have as manyin attendance as last year due to poor weather conditions and the inability to receive grants from CSSA to bus students to the event. Those that attended drove their own cars.
"I'm not sure if the rally is going to change anything, but the fact that enough people are getting involved and schools are collaborating is definitely a good thing," said Dominguez.
The same spirit was kept alive two days after the rally when Richards and a small group of students from Sonoma State traveled back to Sacramento to participate in lobbying visits with the staff of some members of the state assembly.
"Senators do not have enough time to meet with us personally due to their meetings, so we met with the staff of Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro, Assemblyman Michael Allen, and State Senator Noreen Evans," said Richards.
Blake Richardson, a freshman student who did not hear about the march until after it occurred, would have enjoyed the opportunity to attend in order to support higher education and rally with other students.
"If they make these cuts, I will be forced to transfer," said Richardson.
Whether $500 million or $1 billion are cut, students are making an effort to determine their future.
"There is a lot that needs to be done," said Richards. "We understand what is happening with cuts being made everywhere. We're just keeping education on the forefront of everybody's minds."
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